tv Hardball With Chris Matthews MSNBC March 11, 2010 5:00pm-6:00pm EST
together was a bad idea. we found out what it was, let's go back and fix it. >> but the innovation was, the destruction of the profitability of wolverines and transparent markets forced them to go to washington to create this gimmickry so they could still make money, and that money still flows to washington, d.c. so you're talking about turning off the banks' money machine, senator. >> remember the loan crisis? the government came in and said, savings and loan, you're really built to do this very small business. let's make it more risky. they did it. okay, they did it, mistakes are made and i'm not talking about that. sure as hell the savings and loan industry didn't go back and tell them, keep on doing what you're doing. >> i know, it's crazy. keep doing what you're doing, sir. hard ball's up next right now with chuck todd. it's official. harry heed tells mitch mcconnell he's using reconciliation? harry reid's playing "hardball," and so are we.
good evening. i'm chuck todd in tonight for chris matthews, who's traveling with the vice president still in the middle east, in jordan tonight. leading off tonight here, reconcile this. harry reid takes off the gloves and plays his own version of "hardball." the one-time boxer turned senate majority leader formally notified his republican counterpart mitch mcconnell that he will use a senate ruled called reconciliation to get those fixes to health care passed. the move allowed democrats to avoid any filibuster -- republican filibuster against any of those fixes the senate wants to make on their already passed health care bill that's still got to get passed in the house. so republicans, the move is nothing short of a senate declaration of political war. we'll get to the bare-knuckle fight in just a moment. just when you thought the massa saga couldn't get any
messier, some of his former navy shipmates say they were subjected to his unwanted advances. if that's not enough, now there are questions about whether house speaker nancy pelosi didn't take an early warning about his erratic behavior more seriously. next, a look at two hot democratic primaries for the u.s. senate. we're going to talk to the establishment guy in one race, pennsylvania's arlen specter, and the guy in the other race out in colorado. also, more trouble for john ensign. just when republicans think they have democrats in an ethics bind, in comes their ethical problem from their junior senator from nevada. previously undisclosed e-mails show he tried to direct lobbying gigs to the husband of his former mistress. does this put him in hot water with the fbi? we're going to get to that in the politics fix. our friend there, ousted illinois governor and soon to be
"apprentice" contestant rod blagojevich loves cracking jokes at his own expense. we'll have part of it for you in the "hardball" "sideshow," which is what rod blagojevich has become. but let's start with the big business here of reconciliation and the health care bill. we're joined by congressman luis gutierrez from illinois. he's headed to the white house right after this interview to sit down with president obama about his own problems that he still has with what's left with health care. in fact, congressman, let's start with an issue that i'm sure you're going to bring up with the president. and that has to do with immigration and what illegal immigrants can or can't do in the health care bill. what is it about the senate bill that you don't like that you want to see changed? >> all right. a couple of things. first, chuck, if i could just say that, so that we frame this correctly. when the president first came to
me and others, we accepted reluctantly, and we thought it was bad public policy, but we accepted that for the bill to move forward, undocumented immigrants, illegal, here in the united states, would be excluded. that wasn't easy to do, but we did it. then the president kind of doubled down, right? he said, even if they go to the exchange with their own money, they can't buy health care for themselves, and for their families. i'm kind of like, well, they collect the money from the irs. and their taxes. and they go to the store to shop. why can't they pay? especially since they're younger, less likely to use health care, and the premiums will go to helping support the system. so we want people to pay, but he said no, not even then can they come. and secondly, i think it's very important for people to understand that in the senate version, which looks like the way we're going here, i mean, every indication is that the is the way we're going, they're going to exclude legal permanent residents for the first five
years. it's a mandate they go out and purchase health care, but they can't get any subsidy. they're required -- you know, we want imgrants, we're always saying why don't immigrants play by the rules. they want to play by the rules. but then we're saying, you're not really part of the rules. those are a couple of issues. >> let's get down to brass tacks. are those two issues enough for you to say, you know what, i can't support this bill? >> they are enough to say i can't support this bill. i'm looking forward to talking to the president and see if he can't give us some kind of holistic explanation of what we're doing, because health care and immigration, housing, immigration, banking system, immigration, they're all intertwined. let's deal within a comprehensive manner so the president doesn't have to be, i think, really demeaning, the stature of his office and himself by going after immigrants by saying they can't -- because i don't really think he believes that. i just think somebody at the white house told him that might be a good way to go to gain some
leverage among the american public. >> wait a minute, you said somebody at the white house. who at the white house specifically -- >> i wouldn't know. i wouldn't know who at the white house. but i would -- i don't really think it's him. i don't think he woke up, he came and had that altercation with congressman wilson, and then the next day woke up and said, i'm going to double down. not only did i say that -- he used to call them -- >> let me just remind viewers, that you had to do with when the president said his health care plan did not give health care to illegal immigrants, correct? >> let me tell you something. because he had to convince me and others to exclude them, the president wasn't like -- it was like the next day he doubled down and he said, you know what, not even that. even at the exchange with their own money will we not allow them. that's not a good policy. i just think that the president's being advised poorly. >> you brought up immigration,
and talked about how it's intertwined with a number of issues, not just health care. you brought up the financial reform. we know that the issue of comprehensive immigration reform came up earlier today at the white house. >> yes. >> i guess my question is, if the president says to you, congressman gutierrez, here's what i'm going to do, you're going to have to live with this senate language. however, i'm taking on immigration this year, not putting it off to next year, taking it on next year. i had a good meeting with senator graham, senator schumer at the white house today, would that be enough to get your vote? >> you know, it would be enough -- to be quite honest with you, it would be enough to enter into a conversation with the president of the united states. i think we need to deal with this. i want to be helpful. but quite honestly, you know, understand i'm from chicago. i still remember december of 2006 when i got the call from my junior senator and say, come on down, luis, i'm going to hawaii, and when i come back i think i want to run for president. will you help me? i said, go have a good time in
hawaii, barack. enjoy yourself. when you come back i'll stand with you. and i did. you know what? if we could have a little more of that 2004 barack obama who just thrilled us all at the democratic convention, and he applied some of that enthusiasm and charisma to the issue of immigration, i think we can get -- i want to see him come back. i want to see the day barack obama bms the president barack obama. >> while i have you, congressman, are you going to run for mayor of chicago next year? >> no. i called the mayor about a month ago and told him i'll be for mayor daly. >> all right. congressman gutierrez, thank you for joining us. "new york times" white house reporter, jeff, you heard some of that interview. it seems like he's mixing, and this is what the congressional hispanic caucus in general, they're not happy about how the immigration issue has been dealt with, not just in the health care bill, but the whole idea of
immigration reform. if he gets a pledge, it sounded like to me if he gets a pledge that the president will push immigration reform this year, he'll sign off on what he doesn't like in the health care bill. >> that's what it sounded like. it's kind of hard to imagine that the president would agree to do immigration reform this year, or would have the support to go forward with it. we're already pushing the envelope far closer to the midterm elections with this big health care fight. so, i mean, equally interesting, i thought, what congressman gutierrez was saying, he said we want to see some of that old barack obama. what happened to that 2006 barack obama. this next week or two-week period here really is a lot of more infighting among some of president obama's close allies than they had ever hoped to get at this point. the immigration thing, i think president obama will be able to talk his old friend from chicago off the ledge on this one. >> it sounded like he was willing at first -- he wasn't
willing to put his vote on the line at the end of the day. speaking of this trip a little bit, in the press room today, take a look at how many people asked robert gibbs about this trip. as you know, the way the schedule is laying out, he's supposed to leave a week from today, march 18th, which was a deadline that robert gibbs and some at the white house had publicly said they would like to see the house deal with health care. and so now a lot of people are wondering is this trip in jeopardy either in whole or in part. take a listen at the battery of questions he got today. >> the president's still planning to launch his asian trip on time? any chance of a delay? >> if we have any changes in the schedule, we'll let you know. >> does the president still want this thing passed before he gets on the plane? >> if it takes a couple of days extra, chip, we'll be happy to have it pass then, too. >> is there anything about the trip that couldn't be delayed? could you put it off a couple of weeks to finish up health care? >> the trip won't be put off a couple weeks.
>> the president doesn't have a concern about leaving here if it hasn't been completed? >> are you aware of any contingency plan to move it back a day or two? >> i don't have any announcement on today's trip. >> you know, we're used to having to parse robert, you know. you take words for it. but at the same time you look to wonder, is there wiggle room. did you hear wiggle room? >> i think there is wiggle room on this. perhaps not what robert gibbs was saying today, but what the white house, what advisers are hearing from house democrats. i was talking to one sort of senior house democrat yesterday who said, you mean we have to do the vote, the timeline for it is because the daughters want to go on vacation during their spring break? the white house says, you know, this trip has been planned for a long time. it's about more than that. i think if the white house gets enough pushback from house democrats, they will think strongly about reconsidering this trip. so it is really one of the many things that is rankling house
democrats right now. >> interesting that you brought up the fact he is bringing his family with him. one of our colleagues asked in that way, is this more vacation than a serious trip? robert seemed to bristle at that. but you're hearing from democrats on capitol hill saying, hey, don't make your deadline a vacation deadline? >> you heard steny hoyer and speaker pelosi have both pretty sharply pushed back on this march 18th deadline. what is happening behind closed doors is really a furious sentiment from some house democrats that they feel they're being pushed too much on this. some of them, of course, want the vote to happen sooner rather than later to get it over with. others feel this deadline is more about the president's schedule, and it's not the most pressing foreign trip that he's had since taking office. so right now, they say they're still going forward with it. the white house has advanced people in australia, indonesia. but we'll see.
it could definitely be rescheduled. we'll find out how the white house reacts to this criticism. >> jeff, for "new york times," thank you for joining us. coming up, it's the eric mesa mass, or eric massa mess. some of the ex congressman's navy shipmates are speaking out. they said they were subjected to his unwanted advances years ago. we're going to get into it next. sea salts vary in color and taste. one tops them all. adding it helps us use less salt than before in campbell's tomato soup while keeping the famous flavor. ♪ so many, many reasons ♪ it's so m'm! m'm! good! ♪
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welcome back to "hardball." just when it looked like the eric massa saga was winding down, guess what, it didn't. today with the exception of a couple of votes, the house unanimously passed a republican resolution calling for the ethics committee to investigate what democratic house leaders knew about the massa mess, and when they knew it. what will happen next and who is this going to hurt or help in november? kelly o'donnell covers congress for mbs news and msnbc, and josh is with the atlanta. and he's also been covering the story from a salacious way. we'll get into that in a moment. kelly, bring us up to date on this resolution. obviously the republicans are kind of feeding the story, trying to give the story legs a
little bit. but what is the news nugget that they're hanging this on that they put this resolution on today? >> well, they, thought, democrats did, that eric massa's resignation would be enough. it wasn't, because there was some confusion when the democratic officials knew of some kind of problem happening in the office of the former new york congressman. so how does the story go? well, there have been questions about what did the speaker know? now, senior aides to the speaker say that their office was given some information back in october. but not rising to the level of these sexual harassment allegations. it was really of a different tone. they said they were warned by one of massa's staffers at the time that the congressman had too many staffers, had been living with some of his staffers, and there were concerns about foul language. so today the speaker said that she did not know about the sexual harassment allegations until very late in the game. and so she is contending that she and her office were not
aware for months. republicans raised that question. the obvious implication is they might have been hiding it in political terms. the speaker's office said no, that's not what happened. now they investigate. >> kelly, josh, i want to play with you a clip for you. here's speaker pelosi, she sat down with msnbc's rachel maddow that will air at 9:00 p.m. eastern. this is what the speaker said, what she knew about eric massa. >> when was your office first told about krns about his behavior? >> well, any report to our office was in february that there was an allegation against him and that at the same time it was referred to the ethics committee. and that was the appropriate -- i'm now finding out there had been a conversation earlier but it had nothing to do anything close to an allegation. it was repeated something that had been in the newspaper the day before.
>> kelly, very quickly, that's obviously -- so what is she saying that the allegation that she thinks her staff got that there was just simply somebody saying, hey, congressman massa, you know, he's walking a line here, he may be getting himself in trouble but they don't know what? is that what she's trying to say? >> at the time there was no indication there were advances being made but people were concerned about the atmosphere, the foul language, maybe spending too much time with staffers, all kind of living together. of course, he had a home back in his district. sort of had an unconventional way to live here in the district. so that was really the issue. was it just kind of problems on the horizon? different than the more specific allegations. that's her claim. >> josh green, you've done some reporting about sort of some unusual behavior he exerted when he was in the navy. but you said in your reporting, you were tipped off about some eric massa allegations when he was first running for congress. so if you were tipped off, do we think that other democratic, at
least campaign types might have known something? >> i think so. a i got a tip about a former campaign manager back in 2006, where there was -- >> that's an election he lost. >> when he first ran for congress. but weird lawsuit where he made allegations against a campaign manager that he later retracted about making a pass at his son. all sorts of weird things. when the story cropped up again last week and i got back in touch with some of these people that led to his navy colleagues. now we see the whole line of people who have been groped, or had strange encounters with massa. >> you got a lot of these maybe colleagues to go on the record with you about his behavior. i guess my question is, what explanation do they give to you, why didn't they go to their -- to eric massa's senior officer and say, hey, he's doing this? why not report it at the time? >> i think the main thing was fear of retaliation. massa was number three commander
aboard the ship, very aggressive guy. most people in the navy -- around the time of the first gulf war they pegged as really ambitious, going to be admiral one day. if you're a navy guy, to make homosexual allegations against a senior officer, is a serious, scary thing. i think it wasn't until these congressional charges rolled out earlier this week that they really thought it was time to come forward. >> kelly, i want to go back to you, because obviously this -- the house republicans feel they hit jackpot, eric massa, charlie rangel, john conyers' wife, his wife caught up in an illegal problem as well. they think they've hit the ethical motor lode. what do they say when they throw john ensign at them? >> i talked to boehner a short time ago and asked him about that apparent contradiction. he said that republicans need to be better as well.
and he even acknowledged that the handling of the mark foley some years ago where there were also the sexual con no thagss to it, that they handled that poorly. they're kind of grabbing onto it now and saying, let's do it better, we owe the american people that. that is perhaps a true view of policy, but very politically expedient, because nancy pelosi said under her leadership it would be the most ethical. she sort of put this out there as a standard that may have been higher than expectations. if there is something for them to go after, they're certainly doing it aggressively, trying to connect her to the eric massa allegations and saying she should have known. >> josh, go to 30,000 feet here. because it does seem as if each time a political party in the last 20 years has lost control of congress, it's been the ethical issues that put it over the top. the check bouncing scandal that led to shenanigans in '94. and we saw what happened in '06.
tom delay, jack abramoff. are democrats extra sensitive to this? do they see this coming? >> they ought to be. these things move faster and faster. it was only two years ago that it was republican scandals and mark foley causing all this. now you have the whole succession of scandals. you have this spectacle, really, in the whole massa thing, in the race to kind of answer questions about who knew what when. and now the house voting today to start a special investigative subcommittee that is presumably going to issue a report on june 30th. you can kind of see a wave building where democrats could run smack into the same thing republicans did. >> kelly o'donnell, how quickly would the ethics committee -- it's not as if this vote passing means the ethics committee has to start an investigation. but one would assume they probably would start one just for political reasons. how quickly would it start up? >> well, with the overwhelming vote in favor of this, that would certainly suggest that they would do it. they're not compelled to. but there would be an indication
they had only barely begun before massa had resigned. they could actually get going quite quickly. but they usually take a long time. the june 30th deadline is actually pretty quick in the pace of how the ethics committee would typically work. >> it's been quite the week for kelly o'donnell out there on capitol hill. the best beat in washington. kelly o'donnell, thank you. josh green, quite the week for you. tim geithner, huge profile. still a must-read. and there's eric massa. up next, outgoing congressman patrick kennedy has something to say about the massa scandal, too. he went off on the house floor. we'll have that next in the "sideshow." if we don't know how big our community is, how do we know how big our hospitals need to be? the census helps us know exactly what we need, so everyone can get their fair share of funding. we can't move forward until you mail it back. 2010 census.
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time for the "sideshow." stop the presses, patrick kennedy had a bone to pick with the media during yesterday's empty floor debate on afghanistan. >> if anybody wants to know where cynicism is, cynicism is that there's one, two press people in this gallery. we're talking about eric massa 24/7 on tv, we're talking about war and peace, $3 billion. 1,000 lives. and no press. no press. you want to know why the american public is fit? they're fit because they're not seeing their congress do the work they're sent to do. it's because the press, the press of the united states is not covering the most significant issue of national importance, and that's laying the lives down in the nation for the service of our country. it's despicable, the national press corps right now. >> the resolution about afghanistan and withdrawal issue. it went, what congressman
kennedy was supporting went down to dramatic defeat over 300 votes against his position on that. by the way, it was an empty chamber he was speaking to as well. and again, he's retiring. and the outrage is showing post-retirement. blago time, back in action. when has he ever stopped. former illinois governor rod blagojevich, the once future star of donald trump celebrity "apprentice," showed up on letterman last night to deliver the top ten list. it was a good one. >> here we go. top ten questions rod blagojevich asked himself before appearing on "apprentice." >> can i get paid in shampoo? >> yeah. number six. >> is there any chance nbc will replace me with leno? >> yeah. excellent. excellent possibility. number two. >> how come i'm not a governor and paterson is? >> well, that's -- the number
one question rod blagojevich asked himself before appearing on celebrity "apprentice." >> will my hair get along with trump's hair? >> there you go. >> it doesn't matter how you say my name, just make sure you spell it right or put me on tv, it seems that's all blagojevich cares about. blagojevich has a corruption trial slated for later this year. and now the "big number." when "the new york times" best seller list comes out the week of march 21st, which politician will be on top. according to politico, mitt romney for his book "no apology, the case for american greatness." it's going to be number one on the upcoming "new york times" best seller list. not number one for politics, number one. a lot of people didn't think had could get there with that. says a little something. finally, a personal note, just because i'm getting the chance to do this to kind of mark the passing of the great merlin olsen. this guy was all over my childhood, a football great,
member of the los angeles rams fearsome foursome back in the '60s. i wasn't around to watch him play so much football player. but he joined the nbc family. he was football commentator. also an actor on "little house on the prairie." sadly how i knew him best as there. he also played father murphy on another show. olsen died early this morning at a hospital in california. he was 69. he was also the spokesperson for ftd. just the nicest man who everybody said was one of the meanest defensive lineman. go figure. merlin olsen, rest in peace. great thinkers. they're the future of america, so let's bring them up right and give them our cheese. ♪ kraft singles. the american cheese. another heart attack could be lurking, waiting to strike. a heart attack caused by a clot, one that could be fatal. but plavix helps save lives.
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the dow gaining 44 points. the s&p 500 climbing four points. the nasdaq adding on nine points. investors keeping a close eye on china today after a reported jump in inflation. interest rate raise could slow the economic recovery. citigroup has fresh optimism for their financial future. regional banks doing well for the said day in a row on speculation overseas banks are looking to snap up bargains here in the sufficient. british petroleum up after yanking a deal to look for oil off the coast of brazil. video game retailer game stop leading the s&p with a 6% gain on rumors of a possible takeover on the horizon. that's it from cnbc first in business worldwide. back over to "hardball."
welcome back to "hardball." i'm chuck todd. i'm in for chris matthews, who's in jordan with vice president biden. it's time to talk about some races we're loving to cover this spring. in a few minutes, colorado congressman romanoff will be here. arlen specter, faces congressman joe sestak in the democratic primary for the u.s. senate which has been may 18th. almost two months away from that. before i get to that race, i want to go to senator reid's decision to formally inform the republicans that he's going to go this senate role reconciliation. are you concerned about any of the long-term fallout on how the u.s. senate runs if and when you guys vote on some health care fixes this way is this. >> chuck, there are many press dents for using reconciliation. in analogous circumstances. for example, on s-chip and
cobra, medicare advantage, welfare reform, all used reconciliation. and many of the republicans now who say don't do it, it's wrong, were firm advocates in the past. it's all over the congressional record. in their words. >> where are you on the filibuster in general? senator reid has talked about reforming the filibuster. senator bayh has a proposal out there to, quote unquote, it seems like every 20 years the senate does try to change the filibuster rule when he went from 67 votes down to 60 votes. where are you on this? >> well, there was a major crisis in 2005 where the shoe was on the other foot and democrats were filibustering president bush's judicial nominees. >> and you were ready to go reconciliation, right? when you were chairman of the judiciary? >> no, i wasn't. it wasn't reconciliation. there was an issue of what was called the nuclear constitutional option.
and we were able to avoid that. so that the filibuster remains at 60, unless there was a rule change. and that's pretty tough to get. >> all right. i'm going to go to your senate primary, we're two months away from the campaign season. here's congressman sestak talking about you on monday's "hardball." take a listen. >> he has used language that has made me appear to people as though i'm a criminal. you know, and as though i'm breaking the law. and you know, that's the kind of politics that people are saying, we're tired of that negativity. yeah, he brought it from the republican party leadership and he's doing again as he's done it in a dishonest way for many, many times against opponents. >> some strong, dare i say salty language. criminal. did you accuse him of some sort of criminal behavior? >> well, the statute says if you don't pay the minimum wage, you can go to jail.
>> this has to do with his campaign, staff, having to do with contractors instead of putting them on salary, crest? >> his campaign workers are required to be paid the minimum wage by federal and state law. and it is documented by what congressman sestak's campaign has filed, that he paid them about $2.50 an hour. and that is a violation of law. and when he says that i'm using language unfairly that makes him out to be a criminal, i would ask him to define what he has done when he has violated a statute which provides a punishment, including a term in jail. ask him what he would call himself. >> we haven't seen the tv ad. but i want to go to, very quickly, last question here, why
should democratic voters in pennsylvania trust you? now that you west from being a republican to a democrat? why should they trust you now? >> because i have a long record of supporting democratic values. in my tenure in the senate, i have voted perhaps more often with democrats on key issues, like a woman's right to choose, opposing wireless wiretapping, opposing war. i have faced the democrats, we had a state committee meeting, and i got an overwhelming endorsement from the state democratic committee, 229-69 votes. 77% of the democrats voted for me to be the nominee, because they trust me. and they trust me based on a very solid record. >> senator specter, the good news is about our democracy, the voters are going to decide. may 18th, the big day in pennsylvania. i'm sure we'll be talking to you again. >> i'm ready. >> all righty. i want to turn now to
another senate race. this one in colorado. we're going to talk to the insurgent here of sorts. appointed michael bennett faces a primary challenge in august against our next guest. he's the former state house speaker, andrew romanoff. thanks for joining us here. simple question, why -- what's the fireable offense with senator bennett? why shouldn't senator bennett be returned to the u.s. senate? what has he ton done that you make the case, fire him, hire me? >> nobody in colorado, other than the governor has had a chance to vote here. the governor filled a vacancy created when salazar jointed the cabinet in 2008. i believe i've got the strongest record and deepest knowledge of our state. i'm the only candidate in this race on either side of the aisle who is refusing to accept the corporate cash that is corrupting congress. i think one of the reasons so many voters in our state and
across the country have been disgusted with the united states senate is because too many folks in that chamber have become wholy-owned subsidiary of the special interests that bank roll their campaigns. i think you can see it on health reform, financial reform and climate change. we're not getting the reforms we need. >> i want to show you where you appeared with senator bennett. there was an interesting exchange you had. i want to play a quick clip from it. it happened last month. take a listen. >> appreciate the accord that's breaking out on the stage. and you welcome you to join our team. >> i love you. i wish you were running a primary against one of the people that is causing the problems we're talking about. >> hard to say, i go from congressman sestak and senator specter, who are accusing each other of being criminals, apparently, going back and forth on that issue, it was a virtual love-fest. so i guess i go back at you, at this time when the democratic
party is under siege here, what is the fireable offense that michael bennett has done that says no michael bennett, he's got to get out of there. democrats, fire him. >> sure. let me give you a couple of examples, chuck. last spring the senate banking committee had a chance to protect americans from foreclosure. by allowing them to go to bankruptcy court and renegotiate the terms of their mortgages. you can do that under the law today. if you've got a yacht, a second home, an investment property. you can protect it from foreclosure. but if you're like most of us with only one home to your name, you can't do that. an especially important problem here in colorado which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. the senate banking committee including my opponent killed that bill. and they were rewarded with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from the banking industry. in fact, the fellow i'm running against is the fifth biggest recipient of wall street cash in the entire congress. number one in the freshman class in the senate. that's a conflict of interest
that i will avoid by turning down those special interest contributions in the first place. >> we're going to have to leave it there. i know our time is short. mr. romanoff, thank you for joining us. we'll be talking about this race a lot going up until the august primary. >> thanks, chuck. up next, more hot water for another senator. this one republican john ensign of nevada. "the new york times" is reporting that investors have new evidence that ensign may have tried to find lobbying work for the husband of his ex-mistress. a scandal that may prove more damaging even if it's not as salacious as this massa mess. this is "hardball" only on this is "hardball" only on msnbc. not just sinus headache... owwww.... [ male announcer ] but pressure... and congestion. ooohhh.... [ male announcer ] you need a sinus medicine that rescues you from all three symptoms. introducing sudafed pe® triple action™. for more complete relief from the sinus triple threat. ahhh... [ male announcer ] get more complete relief with sudafed pe® triple action™.
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he's done in his life as far as person, but he now has professional issues. time for the politics fix. john ensign last june, since then things have gotten worse. "the new york times" reports that investigators think they have evidence that the senator tried to get lobbying work for a former aide who just happens to be the husband of senator ensign's former mistress. how much trouble is he in? . we're going to get into the middle east and joe biden and that rough trip over there. and that rough trip. no one is having a good week. >> we are. >> that's right. this seems to be in an odd way a much more serious charge than eric massa is dealing with. >> massa resigned. but further it's the use of his
office, too. which includes this allegation. >> if true and true, the assertion that he used his former chief of staff lobbying contracts. >> david, you're saying just go for 10,000 feet for me a minute. all of this democratic mess that the house democrats are dealing with and house republicans today, they are pretty giddy about it. how do they handle the john thing and what does the average voter think? >> they don't necessarily consider these republican candles. prior to the 2008 election
cycle. at that time you saw. >> karl rove to this day doesn't blame iraq. >> he blame as scandal. and president bush, i remember, one evening when he was meeting with reporters said, it had nothing to do with iraq. it had everything to do with the scandals. now, i don't actually buy that argument but i think the more that these break out they do blunt the ethic charges. they have problems in their own house. >> you made an excellent point at the bidding. era massa is out. there is no investigation anymore. >> right. >> walk me through nevada politics right now and why isn't john out? >> because you have a governor out there that is embattled. he would appoint someone if he was to resign.
>> nobody trust this is guy. >> zone issues, divorced his wife, amid allegations of adultery out there, is really held in contempt by the establishment out there. and so there's a concern, kind of like in south carolina, what is worst or does he stay or go? >> and the trickle down has been any of the republicans that the party would like to have run against and when was the last time that we were focused on the nevada politics on a national scale? >> it's supposed to be what happens in nevada. >> all right. we're going to let that stay in nevada. you guys are killing me. we're going to talk joe biden, middle east, and a little israeli politics right after this. you're watching "hardball." ♪
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and we're back with politico's jonathan martin and david. let me go to your foreign policy for the middle east. the president of the united states makes an important trip to try to fix the middle east peace process. israelis just virtually slap him. >> right. you know, what is amazing to me about this story is, it has played out so many times before.
there are secretaries of state who would land and the israelis would announce settlements that would get in the way. >> de ja vu all the time. >> it sort of makes you wonder why it was that they weren't better prepared for this. now, the state department will tell you, the white house will tell you that they believe prime minister netanyahu's contention that he didn't know this announcement was coming while the vice president was there. now, he must have known -- >> but they apologized for the timing, not for the announcement, right? so it would feel a whole lot better if biden had left town first. but the fact of the matter is that the obama administration last year declared that the settlements had to freeze as a way of getting the talks started. then they began gradually to back away from september and they have been backing away. but this is a real back away that has happened and that's why the fascinating issue, to my
mind, that when vice president issued a statement, he didn't say i'm disappointed by this. he didn't say, i wish this didn't happen. he said, i condemn this decision. that's the kind of language that -- >> right. >> jonathan, on some of these early trips with us and remember all of the -- >> all of the bravado, we're going to start the mid-east in our first term. we're not like president bush. >> what happened? >> david is right. this does happen in past administrations. that's not going to stop the republicans from ceasing on this and saying, this administration abroad is not respected. foreign governments are going to have these kinds of things because this administration is not sort of viewed in a way like -- >> so republicans -- you think they can make that a valid argument. >> they've been trying to for the past year. >> jim baker did it. >> butme